100 lb. Club - OT-has anyone had a torn rotator cuff? or know anyone who had one>

12-27-2007, 09:20 AM
I had an injury at work almost 2 weeks ago and I may have torn my rotator cuff. The doctor thought it was just strained but I am convinced that it must have a small tear. I'm not in agony or anything but it is sore pretty much all the time and I have limited pain free range of motion. Of course it is my dominant hand that is affected so I'm not able to do a lot. They want me to come into work tonight but just do paperwork, well seeing as it is my writing hand I'm not sure that would be a good thing. From what I know about it repetative movements are usually the cause so it couldn't make it any better to be sitting and doing a bunch of writing. Also it is a 12 hour night shift and really there isn't a ton of paperwork to be done. I am feeling like if I get sucked back into working before it is a lot better they have more leverage to get me back working my regular job. Anyway I am seeing the doctor today with some functional abilities forms for her to fill out so we'll see what we'll see. I am just wondering if anyone has had a torn rotator cuff and what was your experience or even if you know someone who has, I am interested in first hand information. Thanks!!!

12-27-2007, 09:44 AM
Jen, I had a completely torn rotator cuff (lifting weights) and ended up needing surgery to repair it. My most important piece of advice for you is to demand an MRI. There isn't any way to diagnose what's wrong with your shoulder without an MRI - otherwise it's just a guess based on range of motion or Xrays etc.

And if you do have a complete tear and need surgery, delay can make the fix impossible (the tendon shrivels and atrophies into the muscle and can't be reattached). In other words, watchful waiting may NOT be your best bet.
I'm not an expert on partial tears so can't help you out there, but I know that there is less invasive surgery to fix them or sometimes physical therapy works.

I'm sorry this is so abbreviated but I have to dash out the door for an appointment. I'm available to answer any questions or to help you out any way that I can. :)

12-27-2007, 10:13 AM
I did something to my shoulder about three weeks ago and was concerned that it was the rotator cuff. My brother had surgery to fix his years ago and it was quite an ordeal. (Of course that was with military doctors, who seem to make everything an ordeal.) Mine turned out to be a sprain, and the doctor said that even just a sprain can take a long time to heal. It's still painful, but getting better after therapy.

12-27-2007, 10:41 AM
Thanks very much for both your replies. I very much want to have a MRI just to see if there is a tear. I think that something is going on because I was actually having some difficulties before the injury. That probably just made whatever was going on worse. I have an appt for physio assessment tomorrow and I leave for my dr's appt soon.

12-27-2007, 12:20 PM
My husband tore his very badly when he fell on the ice last february in our apartment parking lot. He was in extreme agony (although I had to throw a hissy to get the stubborn fool to go to the hospital). As it turned out, he had to have surgery, and the surgeon said it was the largest tear he had ever repaired, and even with intense physical therapy, he's only got about 60% function back. Although this is a little more than the surgeon predicted, as the tear was so bad. I can't tell you much about small tears and recovery times, etc but his surgeon did say that physical therapy was key with nearly any rotator cuff injury. He even told my husband that if the physical therapist's recommendations ever conflicted with his (the surgeon's) to listen to the physical therapist.

12-27-2007, 04:48 PM
Thanks Colleen, that's interesting what the surgeon said. My doc wants to keep me off work for a couple more weeks and I am seeing a physiotherapist tomorrow afternoon. Also the doctor is going to send me for an ultrasound and an EMG (tests nerve function) because I am having some numbness and tingling in my arm at times. The worst bit of this has been having to fill out tons of forms seeing as how it happened at work.

12-27-2007, 06:56 PM
Oh ouch! I've had 2 shoulder injuries, both impingements where the tendon gets caught in the joint, then gets inflamed. Without an MRI it's hard to tell if that's the problem, or a rotator cuff tear. But the numbness and tingling sounds more like carpal tunnel which can involve your whole arm at times. I'll warn you that the nerve tests are NOT FUN! I did end up having surgery on one hand for the CT and it was less painful than the tests! :)

12-29-2007, 02:35 AM
Jen -

What did the doctor say? Did they schedule you for an MRI?

12-29-2007, 11:16 PM
Hey there. Well the doctor put me off work for another 2 weeks, I haven't been back to work since the shift of the injury. I start physiotherapy yesterday and I have appointments booked for an ultrasound and an EMG (which will tell if there is nerve damage). I don't know if I will be going back to work anytime soon. The physiotherapist made it sound like it will likely be at least another month before I will go back but it is hard to say because work wants me back ASAP whether I am ready or not even if I sit and do nothing because it costs them less because the longer I get compensation because of the injury the more it may cost them in insurance premiums. So we'll see what happens. Sometimes I think it is a lot better and then sometimes I am not so sure. For example this afternoon I was just sitting watching tv and suddenly realized my arm felt numb and swollen (it was not swollen, just felt like it was) and I had no strength in it at all, I could barely make a fist. That passed after a few minutes but it really makes me wonder what the heck is going on. While being away from work has been nice I haven't really been able to do anything at home anyways, I don't want to overdo it on the computer as that may stress it more, otherwise I'll do something until my shoulder starts to complain and then I rest it for awhile and then start up again. Also I haven't gotten paid yet for the time I have missed work, I got paid this past week so my next pay would be in the new year and I am still waiting to have my compensation claim accepted. I have been told that there should be no issues but still it won't be the same as being at work, I'll only get 85% of my full pay. In the short term it won't be too bad to have one or two short pays but it is not something I want to anticipate continuing for too long. So overall everything is good, it has been nice to be home over the holidays and being able to read to my little boy everynight, if nothing else I appreciate that!

12-29-2007, 11:59 PM
Be very cautious about going back to work before you truly are able to (defer to your doctor and physical therapists' opinions). It isn't just insurance premiums that press an employer to push you to return to work. By getting you back to work (even if you do little or nothing once you're there), they can use this as proof that you were indeed able to return to work (and thus were not disabled by the injury and therefore not due any compensation or disability benefits in the short or long term).

This happened to a guy at my husband's former workplace shortly after my husband had to go on disability (partially due to the shoulder injury, and partially do to worsening of an inherited degenerative joint and tendon disease). They reassigned the guy to "light duty," initially at his old pay. He hadn't taken out disability insurance (but would have been eligible for a workman's comp claim). Then after months of light duty, they reduced his pay when they determined that he would never be able to return to his original position. After a couple more months, they fired him because he wasn't able to perform to their standards. He had to get an attorney to try to prove that this was a workman's comp case, and the last I heard the case hadn't yet been resolved. The company's lawyers are saying that returning to work (even if in a less strenuous job) proved that he was not disabled by the injury, and that his accepting the lower salary proved that the job change was a voluntary decision, and by getting the supervisor to testify that his performance at the new position was initially satisfactory but deteriorated (again trying to argue against disability being the true cause).

In hindsight, we think that is what the plant was trying to do to my husband. They were initially concerned that the fall might be a workman's comp case because of the way the employee manual is written (some injuries to and from work apparently "count" and they had initially thought that the fall had taken place in the employee parking lot, not our apartment lot). Once they determined it couldn't be construed as a workman's comp case, there suddenly was no "light duty" available for him (because if he were hurt on the job it could become a wc case).